Ignoring the Haters, Learning to Love and Live Life at Any Weight

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Beth Donovan, ~INDYGIRL

Sometimes people who feel uncomfortable with their weight or those who have more than 100 pounds to lose feel embarrassed to exercise or sometimes find it hard to even go out in public. It is indeed difficult to combat the negativity that people might express because of someone’s weight. We’ve all seen the talk shows and experiments where a celebrity or their assistant puts on a “fat suit” and is treated differently, usually poorly, in everyday situations. We who are overweight cannot just take off the “fat suit” and need to know how to love our bodies the way they are now, despite what others might say or do.

I used to be a firm believer that overweight negated being pretty. I was told that I had such a pretty face and such a great personality, if I would only lose weight. Be it kindergarten or college, the popular crowd usually judged me on looks. I stuck with a crowd of eclectics until I finally found a niche, being the smart, odd girl who hung around with other smart, odd people. Having found a source of support, also known as friends, I began to grow and see myself through their eyes. Soon I found that I had other things I liked about my personality besides being smart. Odd wasn’t the word for what I was anymore, I was original, funny, spontaneous… and my list grew. As it did, I stopped hanging around the people who judged me or made me feel bad about myself.

As I began to like myself more, I played more with my hair and my clothes and makeup. I needed a style that was more of statement about myself. It felt almost artistic bringing the inner me to the outside. Oddly enough, I find that when I’m dressed in my favorite clothes and am made up, I eat less. I think that’s because you act how you feel. If I feel beautiful and am having a thin day, my actions follow suit.

Soon I found myself wanting to go to a gym and so I signed up, nervously. I’ve had several gym memberships in my lifetime, and the ones that were most successful and comfortable for me were run out of hospitals. They take things from a health approach, rather than a body competition approach. It’s also common to find larger people in that type of program, so it can be less intimidating. There are usually heart rate monitors and health professionals on staff in case of any health issues or fears.

One day as I was working out on the elliptical trainer at around 350 pounds, I noticed in the mirror ahead of me that the girl had some well defined shoulders. That was an epiphany! I was proud of something on my body. Soon I noticed the firming of my hips and the power I felt from strength training. These things made me feel beautiful.

I became disabled at the age of 36. I had a good pity party and weighed up to 460 pounds, while lying in bed eating, wishing the pain would go away. Long gone are the days of working out in gyms, but I do my physical therapy at home. Now I notice the hardness of my biceps and the fact that I can even feel my hamstrings. I see more definition in my calves and when I don’t see these things, I pull out my old pictures. My old pictures of me at 460 pounds give me a reality check of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

These things I find to like about myself, to embrace, are the very things that give me strength to go out into the cold world and face people who might not understand me and be cruel. I used to try to live up to everyone else’s standard of success. Now I have my own. Reaching my goals and succeeding at my desires makes the negative people of my world less powerful.

Another rule I have for myself is that I no longer people please. If I don’t want to go to an event or an occasion because I know there will be people there who are unkind toward my weight or my goals, I don’t go. There is no sense in stressing out over something that should be fun. I make alternative plans that don’t include negative people.

While I can’t say what will work for everyone, I can tell you that I have grown from hating, literally loathing my body, to accepting it and finding things I love about it. I’ve also come from being afraid to let anyone see me to being able to go to a water park in a bathing suit.

What are some things that you love about yourself? How would you redefine success?

Here is a poem I wrote back in 2001. I hope you enjoy it.

Big Fat Lies
Waiting for some miracle, while eating chips at night,

Surfing all the channels for the diet that’s finally right,

All these years of damage; I’ve starved, but gained a lot,

Certainly not in the fitness department; I was a total flop!

I was told the same old rules, I’m sure you know by heart,

I’ll repeat them anyway so this poem can start:

Big girls should never go to proms or have weddings in big sizes,

Wear a lot of rust and black because it slenderizes.

Never eat in front of people, you’ll look like a pig!

Keep you mouth shut, Baby, you shouldn't be loud and big.

Well, thank you for the great advice I hear all night and day.

Now pardon me if I take my life and go the other way.

Big girls should go wherever they want wearing shorts or wedding gear,

We should speak what’s on our minds, we have the right to share,

Take your life and live right now, not waiting until when…

You get one chance to go around--don’t let them steal your wind!

Stop the wishful thinking, just live and you’ll get better,

Never miss a day at the beach dressed for summer weather.

How long has it been since you felt the breeze of summer on your legs?

Not been ashamed of wearing shorts or eating ice cream with the kids?

Skipped through your yard on a sunny day or went on woodsy walk?

Don’t let those people get you down, who cares if they start to talk?

The time is now--Go evolve, knowing the journey never ends,

Enjoy the twists and turns you take, thanking God for every win!
Have you ever been hurt by strangers talking about your weight? How did you react?

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Great info Report
Great Post. Thank You! Report
Awesome!!! Thanks for this post! Report
Great post. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us all to live our lives and be happy with ourselves. Report
Today my fiance was called fat and man lost his job because of it. It is difficult to be a big girl or boy. Through tears he cried "I'm NEVER eating again." This from a man who has lost more than 100 pounds since I've met him. A good man cut down by a now-unemployed ignoramous. Despite everything, I am proud of him and sorry that the world can be so cruel. Report
Thank you so much for sharing, this blog really hit home, it just says it all!

Elaine Report
I enjoyed your Poem, Thank you for sharing it.
Great post, thank you! Report
Great!!!! Truly inspirational. I think we should all make an effort to be more positive and remove negative attitudes (or those with negative attitudes) from our lives (if we can).

I'm glad you are surrounded by positive and supportive individuals. Report
Thank you for sharing. I loved your poem...so true. Report
I have had people comment about me being pregnant & they didn't know it or that I'm eating for two now or whatever. If you've ever had this happen to you then you know how hurtful & embarrassing this is. I've sworn the next time someone said that I was going to say something back & I just never have the nerve. I do point out that I'm not pregnant but never say what's really on my mind. I cannot believe people say these things to someone unless its very obvious that they're pregnant. It's just awful! I think I'm past that now, though & I haven't had that comment for a while. Report
I love your poem. I never had a problem with my wt as a child, but since the birth of my son over 20 years ago, I have struggled. A yr ago I was emotionally hurt by a psychiatrist who told me I was a bad mother because my son was fat. I made my son fat? We were trying to adopt a child; nonetheless, we did not adopt. The only thing negative was my wt. What did that have to do with being a mother? The psychiatrist was overweight also. I have spent a year struggling with this statement and cannot get it out of my mind. Since finding this site, I am looking for the positive. Report
I've been hurt by comments about my weight. I have the opposite problem, and have been struggling to put on pounds for quite a while. Somehow, strangers think weight (high or low) is something they can point out and comment on. I think weight discrimination is one form still accepted by society, and find that sad. I always think of Carl Rogers when I think of this- that the key to change is to accept yourself just they way you are. Report
awesome. Your story and your poem. absolutely awesome. Report
Awesome poem, Beth, and a great message!
Hugs, my friend!
Jocelyn Report
My family is the worst about having negative things to say about my weight.When i started out on this journey i was weighing 312 pounds. i have found a way to turn those negative thoughts into inspiration to lose weight. I have realized that if i wasn't doing this to better myself than i shouldn't do it at all. I AM NOW CURRENTLY WEIGHING IN AT 275 POUNDS. THAT 37 POUNDS GONE THAT I WON'T ALLOW TO COME BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Report
I myself weigh 310 pounds and I'm being made fun of by my cousins and even my grandmother.I don't think its rite for my cousin to make fun of me because hes almost 200 pounds and hes only 16 and he makes fun of me by calling me "THE FAT ONE." instead of calling me dawn.

I don't think its rite but I know I can look good at my weight by doing a few different things.

I can start walking a little and start using my gazelle.I can do some more fitness to look better and live longer but when I start I don't want to do it just because my cousin calls me the "FAT ONE." or because my grandmother talks about me being fat.

I don't really worry much about what people see when they look at me they mostly just turn there head or talk around me like they can't even see me standing there.

When I start dieting and fitness I want to do it because I don't like the way I'm living not because others don't like the way I'm living... Report
Have I ever been hurt? Yes, and unfortunately, the most hurtful comments have poured out of the mouths of people I love. Do they love me? Sure. Do they need to work diligently on working on expressing their concern for my health? Absolutely. Report
I've been snickered at, and I had some nicknames in high school that I won't mention here (good thing we all got to be friends and it became an affectionately-meant nickname - and everyone got one, so not such a big deal). I do think family can be the worst - my mom tells me she thought I was big in high school, but then says I was practically skinny then. So positive! NOT! Plus my brothers would call me fat (ok, siblings can be pretty cruel to one another). On the bright side, I'm pretty much OK with my size, but am working on my weight for my health. I'm down from 292 in August to around 244 today, and still working at it. Report
I get the most hurtful comments from my family. My mother once told me that I was too big and it would harm the baby if I got pregnant now. It really hurt my feelings and I went home and cried on my husband's shoulder. I have a big behind-it runs in my culture-but it's pretty much all muscle and I've had it since I was a child. The other day a lady in my church slapped it and asked me when was I going to lose it. I told her I had no plans to because my husband likes it big! It was great to see the look on her face! Report
Thank you so much. I needed to hear/read this today since I am having a blah day. This is so inspirational. Report
I am still not at the point where I can wear shorts or a swimsuit in public, but your blog gives me encouragement that maybe soon I will! Thanks! Report
I love the poem & it is so true some people just thrive on insulting other people, i guess it makes them feel good. I work in the retail world & i have had customers ask me when my baby is due & i reply i'm not pregnant just fluffy & the spare tire around my waist , i have tried to deflate it but it hasn't went down & then they feel like the a** then, &walk away with egg on their face (lol)& then some will apologize for the insult,my favorite reply was one lady said u have the glow that all pregnant women get & i replied that is because i have a new grandbaby & i am glowing from happiness. Report
Beth, You've come a long way baby! (Does that give away my age?) Isn't it great when we can honestly feel good about ourselves? I'm so fortunate to have a husband who has always loved me regardless of my size. I had some very tormenting moments from grade school all the way through high school and beyond mostly from strangers. There tends to be a lot of morbid obesity in my family and the extended family so it seems there is a lot of understanding and seing beyond the weight. I don't know if I'll ever reach a normal weight but right now I'm trying and feeling decent about myself. There are some situations that I shy away from because of being in the public eye. And that is so sad because some of those things are activities that would be good for us providing us with some healthy calorie burning options. I'm grateful for my true friends that support me. I want to make this my year to succeed! Report
Thank you for writing this blog Beth! Yes, I have been hurt by someone's comments about my weight. I was working at the Post Office as a window clerk. We had a line of people and near the front of the line this little boy said to his mother "that lady is really fat! I knew I was fat and I couldn't hide it from the world. I was so embarrassed. I just kekpt on working and every customer I had for the next 10 min. or so kept apologizing for the kid. I told them that was okay! He told the truth. I think I went home and ate about it. That was about 8 yrs. ago and pre spark! Report
I love this blog! Yes, I have been hurt by others comments. I was at work as a Report
Great blog! Yes, I've been hurt, but not by strangers. It was by my nieces and nephew. They are young and I couldn't be mad at them because it's what kids do. But I was trying to figure out why they would keep running into my stomach, so I asked one of them. They said, "because it's big and soft like a pillow". Cute phrasing, heart-wrenching truth. Not only them, but the rest of my husband's family was like, "she's big...are you sure she is what you want?" My brother-in-law was like, "she's got a beard and I smell her fat rubbing together every time she walks". While it is true at the time I had a hairy face because I have a common hormonal problem called PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and that my thighs rubbed together at the time, it hurt that his family (who happens to be a little large themselves) judged me because my husband happened to be thin.

Now that I am working on myself, his family is trying to get themselves together so that the tables won't turn on them. LOL!!! I laugh at it because even after 9 years of me being with my husband (7 years married) I realized some people just like to stir up trouble and drama just because they are unhappy with themselves. That does NOT have anything to do with those who are losing weight. It has EVERYTHING to do with those who are envious of us losing our weight because it is one less person who looks like them and can relate to them. Because it doesn't have anything to do with us, continue to DO YOU! I am! Report
The worst I was ever hurt was in my early teen years. I was in a store and heard an older lady look and me and say I'm glad my granddaughter doesn't look like that. I was probably about 30 or 40 pounds overweight if that much. That was the worst I was ever hurt. It led me to taking diet pills and a lot of yoyo dieting. In my twenties I got tougher and didn't let peoples comments bother me. I always wear shorts and bathing suits and don't really care what others think. Report
Yes, I have. Just after having my last child I gain 60 lbs. from hormone problems. Because of allergies, I seldom each a chocolate bar but one day at work I had one sitting on my desk and heard people talking about me eating junk food. The sad part was that I indulged around once a year not every day or week. Also one of the coworkers who talked was 'skinny minnie' and at junk food all day long. Too say it hurt was an understatement. However I reminded myself of a verse in the Bible in Psalms 139, which tells me "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." I am also reminded of a cliche which says, "God don't make JUNK."SING4MYFOOD, MELLY423, MYRNACARRIER, ONEDERCHIC, BUNN864, Report
What a wonderful, heart-warming blog! Anyone who struggles with self-esteem, people-pleasing and denying themselves the adventures that life has to offer because they are afraid of judgment and criticism can benefit from your wisdom...I know I did! Thank you for sharing a bit of your beautiful self! Report
Beth, that was a wonderful blog ! thank you so much for writing it ?

Have I been hurt by a stranger's comments about my previous weight ? In past, yes. I remember when I was in high school. One of my class mates walked up to me and said,"you're a fox, without the F". I shrugged it off back then. I was routinely teased about my weight. I was an overweight, but not obese, teen.

Obviously, it bothered me enough that I still remember the incident today. Of course, most of my insults came not from strangers, but my OWN FAMILY. They were the worst. My family's idea of "motivating" me to lose weight was to continuously berate and tease me about my weight. They felt that they could shame me into losing.

Did it work ?? Nope. if anything, all their teasing caused me to turn to food for comfort. I just don't understand why some people think that teasing someone about their weight is motivating. it's just plain rude behavior if you ask me. Report
Great poem and great attitude change - way to go. Report
I started searching the SP blogs today for a "pick-me-up" and came across yours. My gosh - I can so relate to what you have brought to the fore-front. I deal with discrimination in my own home - from my husband. There, I've said it. I don't think I have ever made that public before. Everyone else always tells me I'm beautiful, but because "men are visual creatures" (to quote my husband) my beauty is in how my body looks. *sigh*

I just lost 63 pounds on SP but discovered saggy skin hanging under my arms. This has really put me into an upset mood this morning. I've done a great job with the weight loss as far as following the eating plan. I've stuck to my calorie counting aka "healthier eating" and lost quite a bit of weight since I started the program in January. What I haven't been doing is working out - this is the first time I've been on a healthy eating plan without exercise. It's my own fault but here I am feeling sorry for myself. I am 1/3 of the way to meeting my weight loss goal - 120 more pounds to go. I know I can pick up the weights this week and start a workout routine and maybe it isn't too late for my skin to get back in shape as I lose the weight.

You'd think my husband would notice my pain and tell me he's proud of me, he loves me, or that I'm doing a good job or offer some other words of encouragement. Nothing. He sits there in his recliner like a lump on a log. I know we can't all be touchy feely, but a word of encouragement would be so helpful for my self-esteem right now.

Anyway, I found your story inspiring and I love your poem. Hang in there, and I will, too. We'll conquer all of the issues one day if we work hard enough be it through better habits, a stronger will and just plain discipline. God Bless You! Report
Yes, but it was not by a stranger, it was my daughter. She allowed people to say things about me and became ashamed of me. When she finally had enough, she told me out of frustration. Needless to say, I was broken for her as well as myself. Report
You said it all. People are judged on 'image' it is all a farce. People judge us on how we look and think they know how we got to be so big and isnt it a shame about those fat legs, and ugly fat stomach - she will lose her husband if she doesnt lose the weight .................. hmmmmmmm sad but all so true.

But ignoring the stares, glares and rudeness is difficult. If we stand up to these 'bullies' they would shy away for sure.

At least we can do something about our weight and fitness levels - can they change their attitudes and values? I doubt it. Report
WONDERFUL BLOG! I totally understand everything you said. And I loved that poem. many blessings to you and your success! Report
Thank you for your blog! Report
The funny thing is, I got more negative comments about my weight when I was at my "ideal" weight than I do now... Even when very slim, I have big thighs and a big butt (which I actually have learned to LOVE now)...but other girls used to call me "fat" back then--maybe because of immaturity or jealousy...but now that I'm older and larger, that doesn't really happen...I also find that as I get closer again to my ideal weight, people are responding so positively to me by comparison to those younger, slimmer days, even though I'm still a good 30-40 lbs over my ideal. I'm not sure if I just run with a better class of people now, or if it's due to a change in my own attitude, or both. Report
thanks s0 very much for this topic I have learned a lot from the comments Report
I completely get this. You are an inspiration! Thanks! Report
I really am touched by your words.....congratulations on your success so far Report
That poem is brilliant. It says it all and is very inspiring. Report
Wonderful poem! And this goes for so many things in life, not just weight. I had a friend who went through a nasty divorce & I helped her to clean up her house before it was being sold -- she was going to have to downsize. There were so many things, like good linens, that she had never used, saving them for "someday." When I went home that day, I put the good sheets I'd been saving on the bed. Don't ever let *anything* hold you back or stop you from enjoying your life! Report
Yeah, I can relate. I find it very hard to let go of the old notions of how people felt about me as a fat person, now that I am 'normal'. I hope that I can get to a place that I feel good about me as a person and not feel that feeling good about me, is not connected to my weight. Report
I just read this and I wish I didnt. It is like you walked in my shoes and was talking about me. There is so much I dont do because of my weight it is like I am not alive. I hate family gatherings because the fat comments are all around the corner. I am so happy that I am losing weight but more importantly, in losing the weight I am also finding the strength to not care so much about what people think and have to say about my weight- slowly. Report
Loved the way you are handling this .. with confidence. It is best to avoid the people who treat you with no respect. Only that will show them their behaviour is not acceptable. Do take care of yourself and keep sparking. Report
beautiful poem. I think for me it was after I meet a guy for the first time after talking to him for awhile and he says "looks aren't that important" and then he never calls after we meet or answers my calls is the most hurtful. Report
Well written; inspiring. Thank you! Report
This is a very good read. Very inspirational and very uplifting. Thank you for sharing!!! Report
What a beautiful blog. It brought to mind one of the worst things anyone has said to me about my weight . . . and it was a therapist. After several sessions, I brought up the topic of my weight. The therapist said he knew I would get to the topic eventually because all roads lead to Rome (and apparently "Rome" was my weight). He told me the first time he ever saw me he though the Good Year blimp had gotten loose from its moorings! That was my last visit to him.

Being on SP and seeing the level of caring and support has helped me so much, and allowed me to accomplish things I have never done before. Report
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